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Triptykon - "Melana Chasmata" (CD)

Triptykon - "Melana Chasmata" CD cover image

"Melana Chasmata" track listing:

1. Tree Of Suffocating Souls
2. Boleskine House
3. Altar Of Deceit
4. Breathing
5. Aurorae
6. Demon Pact
7. In The Sleep Of Death
8. Black Snow
9. Waiting

Reviewed by on April 2, 2014

"...'Melana Chasmata,' unlike almost every metal album title, lives up to its name in that it really does create pitch black, depressive chasms of darkness."

Four years ago, Triptykon, the band created by former Hellhammer and Celtic Frost mastermind, Thomas Gabriel Fischer (perhaps better known as, Tom G. Warrior,) released debut album "Eparistera Daimones" to a very positive response. The band stated at the time that Triptykon is a full time band and that a new album would hopefully be out sometime in 2011. It’s now 2014 and Triptykon is finally releasing sophomore full length, "Melana Chasmata." Tom Warrior is one of, if not the most sincere artist in the history of metal music, never fearing to venture into new territories and explore the very blackness of both human nature and his own soul. "Melana Chasmata," I'm pleased to say, continues to utilize this mindset.

The opening track, "Tree of Suffocating Souls," is one of the best openers on a metal album I’ve heard in years, not least because it’s totally unpredictable. At first, I was unsure if I was even listening to the new Triptykon album, thanks to it’s somewhat hip hop styled drum beat, reminiscent of some of the hardest rap of the early 90s such as Gunshot, but my concern was very quickly put to rest by the sound of Warrior’s trademark grunt and the furious riffing which followed. "Tree of Suffocating Souls" is just sheer brilliance. It’s brutal and extreme, unmistakably metal but with so much more to offer, surprisingly catchy and most importantly, it so obviously comes from the heart. Warrior’s lyrics are, as usual, wonderfully phrased and fit the music perfectly, whilst also harking back to the debut's opener, "Goetia," in the sense that while the first album opened with the lines, "Satan. Saviour. Father," this opening song begins with, "Speak to me, my master." The song also brings in a Middle Eastern style segment and to an extent echoes the style of another of Warrior’s former bands, Apollyon Sun, whilst remaining a flawless continuation of "Eparistera Daimones." One song in and this reviewer is begging for more.

The excellent opener is followed by the creepy "Boleskine House," which features a more Gothic vibe than the preceding track. It crawls along for its seven minute duration but doesn’t get boring for a second. What "Boleskine House" offers is a soundtrack to a nightmare, the sound of the waking inhabitants of a haunted house in a hungry mood. The mood remains eerie when the next song, "Altar of Deceit" comes into play, though it soon becomes a crushing, Hellish anthem, perhaps a perfect example of doom metal. It's an angry song wherein Warrior spits out every word with as much venom as he can, with every head nodding drum beat hitting the listener like a punch in the stomach along the way.

The doom metal aura continues on "Breathing," which also brings into the mix something of an 80s style thrash halfway through, further illustrating the volatile and chaotic nature of "Melana Chasmata" and brings back memories of the Celtic Frost classic "Procreation of the Wicked" towards the end. "Aurorae" comes next and though initially a little similar in style to the title track of their EP, "Shatter," it slowly builds up to an immersive and claustrophobic stream of darkness. As the title suggests, this one is all about the atmosphere, much like "My Pain" from "Eparistera Daimones," only heavier and more depressing, which in this case is not a bad thing.

Next comes "Demon Pact" which plays like a classic horror movie score and isn’t a million miles away from the famous "Jaws" theme. It’s a sonic incarnation of the expressionist cinema which clearly influences the band and offers one of Warrior’s most varied vocal performances yet, switching from despairing moans to demonic and canine growls, something which is also present on "In the Sleep of Death," which is perhaps the weakest track on the album. It’s not bad at all, but feels a little exaggerated and not quite up to the standard "Melana Chasmata" sets for itself. It does however, keep the ghoulish theme of the record alive and heavy use of the name "Emily" draws favourable comparisons to King Diamond’s classic album, "Abigail."

It’s become something of an obligatory activity for Warrior to write at least one song which clocks in at over ten minutes for each album, with "The Prolonging" being the longest on Triptykon’s debut and "Synagoga Satanae" taking that honour of Celtic Frost’s final opus, "Monotheist." The longest track on "Melana Chasmata" is "Black Snow," which lasts for around twelve and a half minutes and is another slow builder that becomes more ferocious as time goes on. It’s not quite up to par with the two aforementioned tracks and is a little like Black Sabbath's "God Is Dead?" in the sense that it seems to take some time before moving along but it fits in with the continuity perfectly and true to unpredictable form, contains passages which will keep the listener expecting one thing and receiving another.

And so we come to the final track on the album, "Waiting." For a good while, it appears that this is "Melana Chasmata’s" answer to its predecessor’s "My Pain," quietly macabre and almost tear-inducing in its disturbing beauty. Believe it or not, the surprises still come as "Waiting" brings in a Southern bluesy sound, which only adds to the atmosphere created throughout both the song and the entire album. "Waiting" is a beautiful song which closes the album with both the disturbing coldness and heartfelt creativity that went in to "Melana Chasmata."

What Triptykon has created here, just like the band did four years ago, is much more than a metal album, even the ones which are enjoyable from start to finish. The band has created art, as all good musicians should. They have laid bare the inner torments of the soul and twisted them into a morbid sculpture for its listeners to behold. It's easily a contender for album of the year and only something truly special could take that title away from "Melana Chasmata," which unlike almost every metal album title, lives up to its name in that it really does create pitch black, depressive chasms of darkness.

Highs: Consistently superb quality of songwriting, incredible atmosphere throughout, and surprises from start to finish.

Lows: Fans of faster metal may be a little turned off by such an overly slow album. Occasionally the vocals fall a little flat.

Bottom line: A contender for album of the year and follows on perfectly from "Monotheist" and "Eparistera Daimones." Tom G. Warrior is still the expressionist genius of metal music.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)